MLS NEXT Pro Match Report

Match Report: FC Cincinnati 2 2-3 Philadelphia Union II

Photo Marjorie Elzey

Led by a brace and an assist from Jesus Bueno, Union II held on late to defeat a persistent FC Cincinnati 2 side 3-2 in Milford, Ohio, northeast of Cincinnati itself. The Union started 10 first team reserves. Only Brooks Thompson was not contracted to Major League Soccer.


In PSP’s earlier estimate of Union II’s playoff chances, winning at Cincinnati seemed an essential beginning to the process.

Union II played in Cincinnati the day after the Union lost there, so many extra reinforcements were possible. Matt Freese (GK), Anton Sorenson (LB), Matt Real (LCB), Brandan Craig (RCB), Nathan Harriel (RB), Cole Turner (DM), Jesus Bueno (LM), Quinn Sullivan (RM), Paxten Aaronson (AM), and Chris Donovan (S) were all candidates since there were five recovery days before the next first team match. Freese was the only one who did not staye over and play.

Gino Portella remained unavailable in injury rehabilitation, but in the first ever acknowledgement of his existence as part of the organization, he is now pictured on Union II’s roster page.

Cincinnati 2 lies at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table on 13 points. Since the 29th of May they have only two wins, but impressively both were against Rochester, and both were clean sheets including one on Rochester’s home ground.

In their last five matches Cincinnati had played a 4-2-3-1 double pivot four times with a 4-3-3 being the fifth. They continued in the 4-2-3-1 on the night. They display meaningful roster variation, probably reflecting both their second team’s first year of existence and first year GM Chris Albright’s training by Earnie Stewart and Ernst Tanner.

Teenagers are well represented on their overall roster. Of especial note is their presence among defenders. Whether the unusual youthfulness of Cincinnati’s defensive players correlates to its poor record is a theory we have not been able to explore.

Players under 20

Cin 2(34)

Union II (39)


3/5 60% Keep 2/5



7/10 70% Defs 5/11



7/12 56% Mids 12/17



4/7 43% Fwds 3/5


 (Small data sets require caution. Joe Bendik’s single game in a Union II goal drops that percentage 10 full points.)

First Half

The first 25 minutes of the match were neither visible no audible due to technical difficulties. Full but slow camera mobility was restored only in the 37th minute. it was a technical disappointment for the 17th game of a 24-match regular season.

Union II started all field players from the first team, and goal keeper Brooks Thompson frequently practices as the first team’s fourth keeper.

We discerned that Union II were playing an “empty bucket” with Paxten Aaronson being the most frequent bucket filler receiving passes directly from the back line. Counter pressure was the order of the day and seemed effective, from the limited eyeball sample available.

In the 24th minute Jesus Bueno is reported as scoring from close range following a corner kick. We suspect Brandan Craig may have delivered the initial service but have no idea whether he should be credited with an assist as there is no videotape of the event.

Conditions demanded a hydration break in the 31st minute, the source of the three minutes of stoppage time.

Uncharacteristically, the Union II dominated first half possession 61.2% to 38.8%. We suspect statistics would show the counter pressure was working well.

Second Half

Making two substitutions at halftime, Cincy 2 came out under a full head of steam in the first five minutes of the second half. A thrust in the first minute ended being shot above the bar. But Union II were clearly back on their heels. Three minutes later there was another significant threat.

But a minute and a half after that, Jesus Bueno found Chris Donovan in the central channel near the 18 and the man from Conestoga finished well to double Union II’s lead. Three minutes after that in a match that had become spread from end to end, Jack McGlynn put a shot on target but saw it saved by Cincinnati Keeper Nicola Campuzano. And on the counter thrust, Cincinnati’s Quimi Ordonez collected a feed from Morgan Marshall, outpaced a recovering Union midfielder into the space in front of the backline and scored decisively to the far post past Thompson who had no real chance to stop him.

Less than three minutes after that, a nice ball from Quinn Sullivan on  the flank found Paxten Arronson alone in zone 14, and the second striker delivered into the path of Bueno who buried his shot to restore the two-goal lead.

Cincinnati seemed to have real speed advantages on both flanks, and Union II’s counter pressure seemed much less effective at dispossessing the hosts and keeping them pinned in their defensive half.

In the 62nd minute Aaronson collected a nice through ball and attempted to chip Campuzano, but put it over the bar. Two minutes later Donovan put a header wide.

And in the 64th minute head coach Marlon LeBlanc made his first subs. Boubacar Diallo replaced Jesus Bueno at left defensive mid in the double pivot, and Juan Perdomo came on for McGlynn at the left mid.

Two minutes after that Donovan broke free onto Campuzano 1 v 1, but the Cincinnati man saved his team’s chance to avoid a blowout very nicely against a shot that could perhaps have been placed closer to the corner.

Both sides found energy to make full offensive thrusts. Less energy was available to defend compactly. Both Cole Turner and Quinn Sullivan earned deserved, necessary yellow cards supressing Cincinnati attacks before they became dangerous. In the 74th Aaronson had a good chance but put his shot over rather than under the bar. Then the second half’s hydration break was called. At the break LeBlanc made his second set of substitutions. Stefan Stojanovic came on for Donovan, and Nelson Pierre came on for Aaronson.

In the 85th minute Cincinnati earned a deserved corner kick and center back Kai Thomas headed the service decisively off the underside of the bar and down across the goal line. In the 90th minute LeBlanc made his final sub, bringing on Frank Westfield for an exhausted Sullivan as a right midfielder in front of Harriel.

Thompson was called upon for one more strong save in stoppage time and then the final whistle ended the hot, draining ordeal.

The real difference in the two sides was that the Union II has been at the business of training youth development teams far longer than has Cincinnati. U II punished mistakes and seemed slightly better disciplined in avoiding them, but only slightly. Cincinnati offers much more of a threat than they did last March.

Next match and standings

Union II next play at Subaru Park Sunday, August 14th at 6 PM hosting Inter Miami II. The rubber match against the Junior Pink Flamingoes is a battle for fifth place. Union II must win since Miami is two points ahead of them. In the quest to rise up the table, Toronto has kept pace on Union II and remains in fourth. Inter Miami is currently fifth, above Union II and New England who are tied on points at 26 each. Union II is in 6th and New England 7th because Philadelphia’s goal difference is better.

Three Points
  1. Starting 10 first team reserves suggests the Union technical staff finds developmental merit in making a serious effort to make the playoffs. One datum does not an hypothesis prove, but it does make a suggestion.
  2. The empty bucket plays two defensive midfielders in front of the young, improvised back line. Cincinnati had to drop their starting striker back into the double pivot’s space at half time, replacing a 17-year-old with an older player, and bring on another striker in order to counter Union II’s first half success.
  3. Playing the first teamers conditions them against being needed for squad rotation later this month by both teams.


Union II: (4-2-2-1-1 “empty bucket”, L-R): Brooks Thompson; Anton Sorenson, Matt Real, Brandan Craig, Nathan Harriel; Cole Turner, Jesus Bueno (Boubacar Diallo 65′); Jack McGlynn (Juan Perdomo 65′), Quinn Sullivan (Frank Westfield 90+1′); Paxten Aaronson (Nelson Pierre 76′); Chris Donovan (Stefan Stojanovic 75′). Unsused substitutes: Andrew Rick; Maike Villero, Nathan Nkanji, Bajung Darboe. Distribution: 1st – 10, 2nd – 6, Am – 4. Injury Rehab: Gino Portella.Coach’s Decision: Jose Riasco, Jack Jasinski, Carlos Paternina.

Cin 2: (4-2-3-1 “double pivot”, L-R): Nicola Campuzano; Avionne Flanagan, Kai Thomas, David Garcia (Ramathan Musa HT), Morgan Marshall (Khris Turcios 68′); Harrison Robledo, Zico Bailey (Ousman Touray 86′); Calvin Harris, Gerardo Valenzuela (Nicque Daley HT), Bryan Sanchez (Daniel Martin 68′); Arquimides Ordonez. Unused substitutes: Jack Moxom; Mathew Dreas, Mario Penagos, Leonardo Vazquez.


U II         24th minute       Jesus Bueno

U II         51st minute        Chris Donovan (Jesus Bueno, Quinn Sullivan)

Cin 2       54th minute       Quimi Ordonez (Morgan Marshall)

U II         57th minute        Jesus Bueno (Paxten Aaronson)

Cin 2       85th minute       Kai Thomas (Harrison Robledo)


U II         37th minute     Yellow      Jesus Bueno (foul)

Cin 2       41st minute     Yellow      Bryan Sanchez (foul)

U II         71st minute     Yellow      Cole Turner (foul)

U II         81st minute     Yellow     Quinn Sullivan


Ref: Nabil Bensalah, AR1: Jacob Little, AR2: Christian Little, 4TH: Lauren Lutikoff



  Cin 2 U II  

Cin 2


Possession % 46.8 0 Offsides



Shots 13 25 Duels won



Shots on goal 6 10 Tackles won



Blocked shots 2 4 Saves



Total passes 281 10 Clearances



Passing accuracy % 76.2 14 Fouls



Corners 1 3 Yellow cards



Crosses 9 0 Red cards



  1. Andy Muenz says:

    Union 2 had several opportunities to really put this game away but missed several relatively easy chances in the second half which left Cincy close at the end.
    Agreed that it was really frustrating to deal with the technical issues in the first half broadcast. I know it’s not the first time we’ve seen these issue for road games. I’m hoping it’s not the same for games at Subaru Park, an actual MLS stadium. (I don’t know what the broadcast is like when I’m busy attending the games.)

  2. Humblest of apologies for all the typos and other errors in the initial copy.
    I have tried to correct them as of lunchtime.
    Like Andy, I have no idea what the streaming of the home games has been like. I have never seen one either.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Just curious if you watch Union 2 home games from the press box or from the regular stands?

      • I have never covered a match in the stadium in Chester from the stands, always the press box.
        I covered matches from the stands at Goodman Stadium in 2016. Since the beginning of the 2017 regular season, when it has been my match report, I have been in the press box.
        Official lineups with-correctly spelled names are available an hour before game time. That service is useful to correct mistakes that occasionally appear in the less official sources available elsewhere.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Thanks, Tim. If you watched from the stands I was going to suggest watching a game with you.

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